It is never a pleasant event when someone needs to be terminated. However it can be a lot easier on everyone if it is done properly.
Of course all of the advance work needs to have been done before this event. Disciplinary meetings must have been held and documented. Progressive discipline should have been employed. All other reasonable avenues have been explored and now it is time for the last resort. The key to a good termination interview is that it must be an announcement not a discussion. Tell the person that you have decided to let them go and give a brief reason. Never get into a discussion regarding the reasons. Discussions at this point always get’s messy and never improves things for anyone. My experience is that in almost all cases the person being terminated is not surprised, especially if progressive discipline has been employed leading up to the termination. You should make sure it is clear that this is a termination. I have seen many cases of managers saying things like “we are going to have to lay you off” because they think this is a softer way of phrasing it. It isn’t, what it is, is misleading. Laying someone off is a specific term used when there is an anticipated recall date. If you are terminating someone’s employment, do not beat around the bush about it. Just tell them and move on.
It helps if you know the person being terminated is being treated fairly under the circumstances. Always make sure you are providing fair compensation and that the company is undertaking this in an honorable manner.